The title is ominous. Bastille have always been the go-to band for pop-centred positivity, but Give Me The Future at title glance seems to beg for something more post-pandemic, as opposed to finding the light within it. Yet the album still manages to deliver Bastille’s signature heavy happiness, even if by abandoning the present.
It’s hard to blame them. Inspiration, however, is found in looking to a better future (or, you know, any future) and fictitious narratives. Distorted Light Beam, the opening track, encapsulates this best: “Distort the light beam until I like me,” Dan Smith sings, over heavy synth. It feels as if Bastille, known for their electro-pop hits, are diving into the disenchanted millennial gaze – featuring discussion of everything from online dating to AI. It’s a testament to their willpower that they still help us find a semblance of light within it all.
Although it’s less openly joyous than other Bastille albums, they still offer a heavy amount of escapism, but without feeling like they’re wilfully ignoring conversations around technology, money and health that continue to surround us. Thelma + Louise tracks the iconic film, leaving modern life behind to find yourself exploring deserts to the sound of your heartbeat, in this upbeat, sneakily addictive track. Likewise, on Club 57, the band venture back to ’80s New York, with lyrics that wonder if it’s love, or just for attention over a discotheque background. It’s a standout.
Bastille are best when they have a sting in their tail on this record, with Plug In… being venomous and briefly allowing us to step back into the modern day, with the almost rapped lyrics cynical and burning: “Ice caps’ll fall, Cali’ll burn / Wilful denial until it’s my turn / Bunch of old white men who don’t give a fuck / Are we having fun yet?”. Over AI sounds and building synth it’s powerful, with a searching chorus asking to be told that it’s alright, which here just about saves Bastille from tipping over the edge to nihilism.
It’s clear the British band aren’t looking towards an album full of radio friendly tracks like previous records (though there are some in Shut Off The Lights and Thelma + Louise, they just can’t help themselves) but this is somewhat the point. Interludes such as spoken word poem Promises by Riz Ahmed drive home the notion that we should be dreaming and creating a better future for ourselves, whilst tracks like Back To The Future and Distorted Light Beam still lend themselves to huge arena plays.
There’s everything from glitchy pop, dance tracks and emo rock on this album, but a key message, Smith’s unique vocals, and a tendency towards electronic earworms, make it a sonically cohesive work that has just the perfect touch of modern life to make us feel something, but with enough escapism that we don’t burn out from it. Bastille has always been good at wielding humanity in their work, but this record shows them upgrade to masterful: “Who knows what the future holds? Doesn’t matter if I got you.”